The Creed: Part II
Hello again and thank you once for reading this blog series on the creed. Before continuing reading, ask yourself a few questions: Do you have the Pledge of Allegiance memorized? How about the Sailor's Creed? Can you sing all the verses to Star Spangled Banner? Since you are a sailor, the answer is certainly yes. These are both icons to all of us as Americans. They are part of our national identity and reflect shared values and commitments among us all.
As Christians, we have an additional identity beyond our national identity. There are certain values and commitments we hold sacred. Many of these commitments are summed up the Nicene Creed. Specifically, the Creed sums up who Jesus Christ was and is, what he did, and a statement on Christian hope.
Some may say at this point that creed is not needed because we have the Bible. If we want the real Jesus, we need only look there. But is it really that simple? In our time, when I say “Jesus Christ” I mean someone very different than my friends in the Church of Latter Day Saints who say “Jesus Christ.” The LDS mean something very different when the Dali Lama says “Jesus Christ” and so on and so forth. Both the LDS and the Dali Lama read the Bible too. This problem did not start in our time. It is as old as Christianity and you'll see that in the next blog. Also the Creed is not something in opposition to scripture. Rather it comes from scripture and points to scripture. More thoughts on that later.
Here is Creed as it is found in many worship services –whether they be Protestant or Catholic:
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]*,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic** and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Sound like a lot to memorize? How long was Star Spangled Banner though? There are no doubt a lot of phrases that you have questions about. My next blog will be a brief history of the Creed. After that, you have the chance to see and discuss parts of the creed. We'll be taking it one phrase at a time.
*This phrase “And the son” was and is a source of controversy. Eastern Orthodox Christians (such as many of those in Iraq) do not say “and the Son.” Western Christians, Catholics and Protestants, usually do say “and the Son.”
**The phrase “catholic” here is little “c” catholic. The word “catholic” means “universal.” Many protestants choose to replace “catholic” with “Christian” here. It is indeed a difficult phrase, but it will be examined in later blogs.
Joel Gonzaga has never been on a navy vessel, fired a weapon, or used a uniform to get girls. He did however study Theology and Azusa Pacific University and Christian Philosophy at Loyola Marymount. His blog is entitled Some Kind of Christian